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Celebrating the Light of the Season

December 15, 2023

Dear members of the SLU community,

The last final exams of the semester are drawing to a close, and we look forward to the respite of winter break. As the lights that adorn trees and buildings twinkle to life, we put work aside and prepare for time of rest and renewal. 

Especially during this season, I am moved by the beauty of our campuses and the SLU community. Inspired by the ideals of the Society of Jesus, our global Jesuit university is grounded in Gospel values and illuminated by the wisdom, faiths, cultures and traditions of all who have made SLU their home.

In the Catholic liturgical calendar, the current season of Advent is the beginning of a new year. In the long darkness of winter, holiday lights represent the hope and anticipation that precede the joy of Christmas.

During Hanukkah, Jewish members of our community light the menorah, celebrating the miracle of light that persists against all odds.

Later this month, community members who observe Kwanzaa will illuminate the Nguzo Saba – seven community-strengthening principles rooted in African culture – with each red, green, and black candle they light. 

In February, the lanterns lit in Lunar New Year celebrations will drive away the darkness and signify the hope of a new year.

In the approaching spring, as the crescent moon brightens the sky and heralds the beginning of the sacred month of Ramadan, our local Muslim community will come together at sunset to break their daily fast, pray, and share cherished moments of reflection.

And again next fall, the SLU community will gather in celebration of Diwali, the Hindu holiday that recognizes the triumph of light over darkness. 

These lights, among the many you bring to SLU, create a distinctive constellation. Drawing on the strengths of each of our backgrounds and traditions, we form a community committed to compassion and respect for human dignity. We recognize the light in each other, so that we can – together – nurture hope for a more just and peaceful world. 

As Fran and I gather with loved ones for Christmas this year, we will remember with gratitude the light that each of you offer to the SLU community. We wish you a Merry Christmas, a joyful holiday season, and many blessings throughout the new year.

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.